Long-term synaptic facilitation of tail sensorimotor connections in Aplysia

Fan Zhang, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Long-term sensitization in Aplysia is a well studied model for the examination of the cellular and molecules mechanisms of long-term memory. Several lines of evidence suggest long-term sensitization is mediated at least partially by long-term synaptic facilitation between the sensory and motor neurons. The sensitization training and one of its analogues, serotonin (5-HT), can induce long-term facilitation. In this study, another analogue to long-term sensitization training has been developed. Stimulation of peripheral nerves of pleural-pedal ganglia preparation induced long-term facilitation at both 24 hr and 48 hr. This is the first report that long-term facilitation in Aplysia persists for more than 24 hr, which is consistent with the observation that long-term sensitization lasts for more than one day. Thus, the data support the hypothesis that long-term facilitation is an important mechanism for long-term sensitization. One of the major differences between short-term and long-term facilitation is that long-term facilitation requires protein synthesis. Therefore, the effects of anisomycin, a protein synthesis inhibitor, on long-term facilitation was examined. Long-term facilitation induced by nerve stimulation was inhibited by 2 $\mu$M anisomycin, which inhibits $\sim$90% of protein synthesis. Nevertheless, at higher concentration (20 $\mu$M), anisomycin induced long-term facilitation by itself, which raises an interesting question about the function of anisomycin other than protein synthesis inhibition. Since protein synthesis is critical for long-term facilitation, a major goal is to identify and functionally characterize the molecules whose mRNA levels are altered during the formation of long-term facilitation. Behavioral training or its analogues (nerve stimulation and 5-HT) increases the level of mRNA of calmodulin (CaM). Thus, the role of Ca$\sp{2+}$-CaM-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), a major substrate of CaM, in long-term facilitation induced by nerve stimulation was examined. KN-62, a specific CaMKII inhibitor, did not block either the induction or the maintenance of long-term facilitation induced by nerve stimulation. These data indicate that CaMKII may not be involved in long-term facilitation. Another protein whose mRNA level of a molecule was increased by the behavioral training and the treatment of 5-HT is Aplysia tolloid/BMP-1-like protein 1 (apTBL-1). Tolloid in Drosophila and BMP-1 in human tissues are believed to be secreted as a metalloprotease to activate TGF-$\beta.$ Thus, the long-term effects of recombinant human TGF-$\beta1$ on synaptic strength were examined. Treatment of ganglia with TGF-$\beta1$ produced long-term facilitation, but not short-term or intermediate-term facilitation ($\le$4 hr). In addition, TGF-$\beta1$ and 5-HT were not additive in producing long-term facilitation, which indicates an interaction between two cascades. Moreover, 5-HT-induced facilitation (at both 24 hr and 48 hr) and nerve stimulation-induced facilitation (at 24 hr) were inhibited by TGF-$\beta$ sRII, a TGF-$\beta$ inhibitor. These results suggest that TGF-$\beta$ is part of the cascade of events underlying long-term sensitization, and also indicate that a signaling molecule used in development may also have functions in adult neuronal plasticity.

Subject Area

Neurology|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Zhang, Fan, "Long-term synaptic facilitation of tail sensorimotor connections in Aplysia" (1997). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9732778.